tv Tavis Smiley WHUT January 19, 2012 8:00am-8:30am EST
tavis: good evening. this is the third and final night of our conversation about how to restore american prosperity. we aren't joined by a panel that includes michael moore, cornel west, barbara ehrenreich, majora carter, ceo vicki escarra and roger clay. we are glad you have joined us. our final night is coming up right now. >> every community has a martin luther king boulevard. it's the cornerstone we all know. it's not just a street or boulevard, but a place where walmart stands together with your community to make every day better.
wk kellog foundation. learn more at wkkf.org. and by contributions our viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] >> one of the things we were talking about is that the data is abundantly clear. the younger you are, and the more likely you are to be in poverty. it is that simple. the younger you are, the more likely to be in poverty.
we talked about the difficulty the students have to navigate. what do we say in this moment in america about and to a nation that allows that statistic to be the reality? >> what kind of people are we when we acknowledge that reality? that is not just a sad, it is pathological. i am anti-in justice in america. that is not the same as anti- american. the question becomes, if we are really serious about being poverty abolitionists and calling for the eradication and abolition of poverty, we got to target the young people from birth to five years old.
all the evidence talks about the shaping of their minds and hearts and souls. this cannot just a matter of programs. it is a matter of civic society. does this kind of discourse take place in churches and synagogues? no. there are other priorities at work. what is going on? the renaissance of compassion and the nonviolent, democratic revolution we are calling for against oligarchy is across the board in every sphere of our society. that is part of the consciousness raising that needs to take place. >> this has been interesting. what struck me, i want to go back earlier to susie's point, because this will be revolutionary. there are also poverty deniers
in this country. there are too many apologists. i want to know what we say to the deniers. i do not know how it is that people can still deny that poverty is real and as real as it is and yet there are poverty and deniers. as if this is a fantasy. i heard you say -- >> i want to say something. you cannot do anything about the people who are clueless. if they are denying this fact, we are a big country. the poll that said 21% of republicans believe that barack obama may be the anti christ. 21% of them believe that. there's nothing you can do. you have to say we are a big country. there are people who are stone cold crazy.
there are 30 million people that are just don't cold crazy. but there are 270 million that are not. [laughter] you just made such an excellent point. while some of us are trying to abolish capitalism, or if it is a more comfortable word for you, greed -- that is just another word for it. the practical things right now, if they do have cable and are able to watch this. [applause] >> if not, it is on pbs next monday, tuesday, and wednesday. [applause] >> free public television. >> you ask about all these partoverty programs and people complain about poverty. here is a poverty program that everyone should get behind,
jobs. isn't that really at the core of what everybody has been saying? if you have a job and you are paid a decent wage, a livable wage, isn't that really the eradication of this poverty, if you are paid a wage so that you are not in poverty? how do we create those jobs? corporate america, 4500, are -- the fortune 500 are sitting on $2 trillion cash in their bank accounts. in the past, that has never happened. " corporations do when they make money is they then spend that money to create more jobs. let's build another factory and we can make more of that, and employ more people. that is how we used to work, kind of. now what they are doing is, they are making record profits and putting money in their bank account, and doing it in part because it is their rainy day
fund. they know the other shoe has not dropped ticket they are still doing credit defaults swaps and derivatives and all this crazy stuff on wall street. they know another crash could happen. a credit card crach. -- crash. any of a number of things could happen. they want to make sure they are protected. if we force them, if congress could force them to say, you have to release that money, you cannot afford it money, if i -- cannot horde the money, if i live in a town in northern michigan where it is very cold in the winter and there is no natural gas, you use heating oil to heat your home. if the heating oil company down the road was hoarding all the oil and not selling it to people so they could heat their homes in the winter, what would those people do? rise up.
wait, capitalism, if that heating oil company doesn't want to sell your their oil, they don't have to. well, that has to change. that $2 trillion has been taken out of circulation. it has to be put back into circulation. we need a roosevelt-style jobs program right now. we need real jobs with real wages. we need to start the eradication of poverty. >> let me challenge that. i don't know in this era, i don't know a single corporate co who gets rewarded for hiring anybody that he or she does not have to have. take that argument to its logical extension.
one could argue that this economy is never going to come back, because as long as ceo's know that they can do the same with less and they get rewarded for squeezing more out of the shareholder, nobody gets rewarded for hiring more people. you don't get rewarded for putting more people back to work. >> the whole discussion about a jobs creation and who is going to create jobs is so silly. all the rewards of our form of capitalism have been for the people at the top who can reduce the number of employees they have. that is all they know how to do. romney is not an exception. the idea is to get lean and mean. that is all they know how to do. i don't think it is really that we want to destroy capitalism. it is destroying itself. this cannot work. you cannot have an economic system where your and your --
fewer and fewer people can participate as either workers or consumers. clay don't earn enough or they don't have jobs. that is one of the reasons we had the crash of 2007-2008. there was so much poverty that was behind the mortgage crisis. you cannot run things like this. you cannot have an economy just based on the 1% plus their -- i don't know how it would work. it is not a matter of if we like capitalism or not. it is a matter of how we survive when it isn't working any more. >> you can either have all the wealth concentrated with a small number of people, or you can have democracy, but you cannot have both.
wvicki, you were going to say something. >> part of what we are talking >> there is enough to the fruit to develop most of the -- and the food for most of the developed countries. what i would do is find a woray to work on the food system so we can get what farmers grow to the cleats of people who need food. it is a stretch, because these programs are under fire on either side of the aisle. a big stretch would be to and feed the children and families
in the united states of america. >> i want to read a mansion america and a way that allows every person in it to see their own value, their dignity, and to understand there are ways we can create economic opportunities. in particular, using the tools we are behalf. real-estate development, using its to create communities that meet the needs of everyone who is in it. they are creating open space for people. opportunities for not to degrade the environment. we can do that. we can grow food in our cities and use technology to help redefine what our regional office -- 2 system looks like. we can do these things right now.
the best social service dollar spent is a job. it creates dignity and taxes. >> we have been sitting here talking about poverty in the system and getting out the truth about it. i am also looking at 1500 people and i have to ask you, each one of you, what are you doing to stay out of poverty? how knowledgeable are you about the money and that you are making? do you have the documents to protect your tomorrow so that if something were to happen, the amount of money does not go to a lawyer. what steps are you taking to keep yourself out of poverty? the more people into party, the harder it is going to be for
everybody to get out. have you been on an airplane and you hear them say, when the oxygen mask falls, put it on your face a first. that is because if you cannot take care of yourself, you cannot take care of your children. you ask me about student loans and children. all of us are passing day silent message to our kids. we do not talk about money or discuss money. money is a dirty. i am talking about your family money, what you do with it, how you get more out of what you already have. if you do not learn about money, i am talking about personal finance, you're setting yourself up to be a victim to a system that wants you to fail. i hope all of you leave tonight
thinking about what we do for the entire system and changing the world, but i hope you go home and have a set down and go, what am i doing in my life right now to stay out of poverty? you can still do that. you had better start doing it now, people. i could be looking at 1500 people in poverty if you do not get powerful over the money you house. what you do with it. i am asking you to turn toward yourself to solve that problem in your own family because nobody else is going to do it for you. [applause] >> this is the point where suze would like you to take out your credit cards right now. i shares are bringing down -- ushers are bringing down
scissors. [laughter] >> i want to go back to jobs. you are right in the short term that we need to get people to work. they have to be a good jobs. they have to pay well and have benefits. they have to do that. it if we do that, we have not done a damn thing. this system is still the same. we stay in a nice hotel. i spoke yesterday to the woman who cleans my room. i can tell you she is in poverty. that is all we are willingo pay to pay her. merely getting down our unemployment rate to 4%, that is insufficient.
>> my question to anyone who is african-american, if we are able to succeed, if we find the solutions, in the present and future, do you worry that the new system, putting people back to work in creating a middle class, you will find yourselves still out there in that group that is not allowed into the new party, the new system, what is your fear of that taking place? >> it depends on the time you're talking about. in the short term, my lifetime, i do not think it is going to get better. i would start with young kids and asked, what do we want this
country to look like in 20 years? i start at birth and move up. i will probably not be around at that point but i think, one of the things i am optimistic about is because of the 99. things have gotten so bad for so many people, it is not blacks and latinos. other people are beginning to understand. it is not going to turn around. tavis said people are thinking about going back to the labor market. our economy hashanged. the longer people are out of work, the more it is changing. we're going to have to come up with a different work force system. >> i think it will be better.
>> are are other reasons. one, we have more mixed race people. a lot of them are influential because of people of color bearing into white people money that have more money. that is younger people. >> because they are not as racist as the previous generation. the only white beads group that president obama hanlon was 18-29 year olds. he lost every other age group. that may sound depressing but our young people are going to fix this. you know this. our kids are not bigots or homophobes'. they do not look at you with the grandparents did. this is going to get better.
>> i want to ask about labor. >> i happen to be an african- american. >> that is because god made to a black man. [laughter] >> i am glad he did. i am glad he did. shout hallelujah. [applause] >> it is a wonderful thing. >> and did you all to seeing that song? made me ♪d god pentecostal baptist. my view, to your question, is a bit nuanced. i am glad that roger had this
point about optimism and hope. to my mind they are different things. optimism suggests there is a set of circumstances or conditions, something that you can see that gives you a reason to believe things are going to get better. sri say i am optimistic. that has never been the case for negros in america. coke, the bible says, that faith is the substance of things hoped for. the evidence of things not seen. optimism and hope are different things. i cannot look at the condition of black people today catching the most in this economy. i cannot look at our condition and find any reason to be optimistic. what i can be is hopeful. had is why i love the negro national anthem.
we had that line that we had hoped when coke had died. that is deep. they found a way to have hope. yet we are the most hopeful people in this country. optimism and hope are different things. i do not have any reason to be optimistic. i am hopeful to. it is precisely why it troubles me. i want to be honest, it almost depresses me at times when some folks do not understand the critique of obama from those who want a more progressive view of this country. the reason why i am on this is because i think this is the last, best chance my people have. if the numbers continue to get worse, we keep sinking, there is
a chance my people might never come out of that. i love black folk --and i love black folks too much to sit and watch this happen to them. [applause] >> i will say this about young folks, i do not know of a wave of young people who are commensurate to the grandmothers and grandfathers that shaped me in terms of who i am. i do not. young people have been so penetrated with the capitalist culture. the instant gratification an overnight success and persian button. in that sense, there is a shift from john coltrane and the ray charles and a wreath of franklin into the bubble gum music that
is predominant. there is a shift. we have a number of folks but when we talk about young people to make this change, if you're not talking but a willingness to serve, you're going to get bought out. you will not be a long-distance runner. you'll be so obsessed with instant success and superficial status that you will make your grandmother week from the grave. -- weep from the grave. she will want you to have earned great as, not quick success. she doesn't care about what your position is or how big your crib is. that is a different sensibility. that institution we have to keep alive. we are still agreeing on this. >> how about a round of applause
for this great panel. this has been a wonderful conversation we will continue throughout the entire here. if you missed any part of it, visit our website at pbs.org. poverty is not just an issue here but around the world. it is because of that reality we will be talking tomorrow night in l.a. for the first of two nights with sean penn. until next time, keeps the faith. [applause] >> for more information, visit tavis at pbs.org. >> join me next time with actor sean penn on the status of 82 years after the earthquake. see you then.
>> every community has the martin luther king boulevard. it is the cornerstone we all know. it is not just a street but a place where walmart stands together with your community to make everyday better. >> wk kellgo foundation, improving the lives of a vulnerable children. >> and by contributions to your pbs station by viewers like you. thank you.